Operatic: how's that for a pithy summary of Italian fashion at its very finest? If the adjective one grasps at to describe the raw creative energy of London is theatrical, the slick sheen of New York is tagged cinematic, and the masterful, intricate manoeuvres of Paris haute couture balletic, opera seems the best world to evoke the exuberance and extravagance that characterises the best of Milan at their best. After all - and after pasta - what is more Italian than opera and fashion? Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana certainly agree: La Traviata soared behind their latest menswear show, an ode to masculine sartorial excess if ever there was one.
Masculine sartorial excess, however, is what Dolce e Gabbana do very well indeed. After a few seasons experimenting with Italian Neorealist inspirations - hence the paradox of cashmere poverino suiting that retailed in the higher four figures - D&G let loose with this offering. Where there was once hardy tweed, linen and Aran knits, there was now sleek wool voile, slippery lawn and supple velvets. Gold bullion embroidery popped up too, on everything from frogged velvet jackets fit for a Romanov through to flat caps and grey woollen socks. Maybe they were supposed to be a bridge between new flamboyance and old austerity? If so, they failed utterly - but no matter. They're already vying for the top post as most ludicrously overstated item of the season, with a matching waiting-list racking-up too.
All that makes it sound as if there was lots of glitz, but not much for Dolce e Gabbana's loyal fanbase to wear on an everyday basis. Guess again - there's always been a dressed-up bent to Dolce e Gabbana boys, but you don't need to be the type to sport an opera cape and silk pyjamas as daywear to wear this every day. The suits were neat and slim, black, sometimes trimmed with velvet revers: coats were cut with a swagger like a Victorian gentleman's greatcoat, collars tufted in fur or astrakhan. The finale, indeed, consisted of nothing but those truly great coats, thrown over narrow tailoring or dark denims and white shirts with bowties pulled skew-whiff.
There's the nuts-and-bolts of what you'll see in the shops and across the magazine pages. Very fine it looked too - one of Dolce e Gabbana's best outings for years, never mind seasons. But if we look below that glittering surface there's something interestingly psychological about all this. Austerity doesn't look quite so appealing when its a reality rather than a silk-screen game of dress-up: both Italy as a nation, and Dolce e Gabbana as a company have had issues with cash-flow this year. With the Euro teetering and companies folding left right and centre - including Domenico and Stefano's D&G line: the looks in store for spring are the label's swansong - maybe this is more than just wilful indulgence. Perhaps it's their antidote to harsh reality.